Center for Entrepreneurship

New director joins Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship

by Stephen Briggs

Bobby Smith - Director of the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship - 2020

SUMMARY: The Gilliam Center welcomes Bobby Smith to "advance the research, pedagogy and execution of entrepreneurship at JMU and beyond."

After a national search, the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship (GCFE) welcomes Bobby Smith as its next executive director. Smith was a teacher of courses in non-profit management and social entrepreneurship at Denver University, and is the principal consultant for SocialSmith Group, a research and consulting company focused on assisting clients with accelerating social impact and achieving sustainable growth.

“I’m delighted to welcome Bobby Smith,” said JMU Provost Heather Coltman, “who will bring fresh viewpoints and a strong collaborative approach to building an entrepreneurial mindset across all of our programs.”

Bobby Smith - giving a talk for Detroit Shift“I am honored to join the JMU community as the new Executive Director of the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship,” said Bobby Smith. “During my tenure the spirit of entrepreneurship will continue to be woven throughout the fabric of our community.”

Smith is highly experienced with advising individuals on early-stage venture funding strategies that result in successful capitalization. “This combination of skills and abilities will round out the Gilliam Center’s programming which will promote a very inclusive culture for entrepreneurship at JMU,” said College of Business Dean Mike Busing. “His rich background and experiences, in both theory and practice, will advance the research, pedagogy and execution of entrepreneurship at JMU and beyond.”

For Smith, “Entrepreneurship is as much of a mindset as it is a skill, career path or even lifestyle. At the core, an entrepreneur is anyone who can provide value by solving problems.” He looks forward to “Empowering our students and faculty across the university to become global changemakers, capable of disrupting industries and impacting communities.”

Especially during the current COVID crisis. “During these uncertain times, entrepreneurial leaders and multidisciplinary thinkers are on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. They are creating better processes for the mass production of masks, testing kits and ventilation systems,” said Smith. “With your support, I hope to work across colleges to strengthen the JMU entrepreneurial ecosystem and prepare our community to answer the challenges of the future.”

The Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship promotes entrepreneurship on and off campus to empower individuals and transform lives. The Center supports interdisciplinary programs within colleges and multidisciplinary collaborations across campus through active participation, marketing support, academic and entrepreneurial networks, and grant funding. Along with the entrepreneurship minor it is a resource available to all students on campus, and is housed in the College of Business.

In 2018, the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship was named for the late philanthropist Leslie Flanary Gilliam (’82), following the largest gift commitment in JMU's history. As an alumni leader, Gilliam advocated for entrepreneurship at the university, helped establish Madison Trust and  Women for Madison. Her family announced the gift in her honor at the public launch of Unleashed: The Campaign for James Madison University.

Smith joins the GCFE during an exciting period, as it moves into the newly built College of Business Learning Complex in May.

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Published: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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